Is there a place for Legends Golf in Middle East?

Fairway Views/Nick Tarratt/Dubai
Filed on August 24, 2021
Denmark's Thomas Bjorn recently won the Irish Legends. (AFP)

It would be much fun and very different to our existing tournament diet

The Middle East is now home to world-class golf with UAE, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia hosting several top international professional tournaments on the men’s and women’s Tours. So is it time for golf clubs, promoters and event organisers to look again at the Legends Tour, which was previously known as the Senior Tour?

Last week, Thomas Bjorn of Denmark won the most recent event on the over 50’s Legends Tour international schedule, the Irish Legends, at Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort, Ireland.

Bjorn is a former Dubai champion, having won the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club.

The new head of the reinvented Staysure Tour, under the European Tour banner, is Founder and Chairman, Ryan Howsam, who has provided both energy and enthusiasm to this Tour.

Howsam’s commercial background is with Staysure, travel insurance for the over-50’s.

The modernised Tour model, the brainchild of Howsam, involves participation of the golf legends/Tour winners, Ryder Cup captains and Major winners on some of the best golf courses. It also involves a Pro-Am format, often during tournament play for the professionals, and even players can host tournaments.

Howsam describes it as ‘the greatest amateur experience in golf’.

The Legends Tour offers a range of playing experience options, including the Legends Pro-Am, Celebrity Pro-Am as well as the three-day Alliance Pro-Am format, which pairs amateurs with the legends of the game, including Ryder Cup captains, Ryder Cup players and Major winners.

At last week’s tournament in Ireland, there was a strong field of 60 golfers, including the likes of Phillip Price, Peter Baker, Paul Lawrie, Barry Lane, Mark James, Paul McGinley, Mark Mouland, Ian Woosnam, Thomas Levet, Bill Longmuir, David Gilford, Philip Walton, Roger Chapman, Steven Richardson and Jose Coceres, winner of the 2000 Dubai Desert Classic.

Some golfers in UAE will have memories of the Abu Dhabi Seniors event in 2000 organised as an opening event for Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Two events on the then Senior Tour were hosted in 2017 and 2018 at Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club, which were won by Chris Williams and Thaworn Wiratchant.

The Riffa Golf Club at Bahrain also hosted the 2005 and 2006 Arcapita Senior Tour Championship.

Playing alongside these legends of the game encourages the traditions and conversations on the history of the game.

The next Legends Tour event on the 2021 schedule is the Scottish Senior Open at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club (September 10–12).

So many players, in their prime, have played in the international golf tournaments in this region.

With, perhaps, a cost-effective sponsorship investment, would it not be great to re-engage with these great golfers by hosting a Legends Tour event initiative in the Middle East region?

It would be much fun and very different to our existing tournament diet!

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